“Bruce got a lot of things right. Keeping the board in the dark wasn’t one of them.” -Miranda Tate, The Dark Knight Rises
I had an interesting experience about a month ago. I was working with one of our marketing people in the office. We were working a Dale Carnegie project and we needed to present some ideas to our executive team. Naturally, the marketing person I was working with is bright, energetic and had several good ideas on how to move this particular project forward.
We tested her ideas by running them through various different mental models and took several different viewpoints. I then threw her a curve ball by asking this question: “Can you sell this to our executives?”
When I attend networking meetings, this question seems to draw many blank stares, curious looks and even a small amount of trepidation from almost everybody I ask. Sales people have no problem selling executives in their major accounts. But they become confounded when it comes to selling their own executives their ideas.
Truth is, top-level executives love people who have good ideas, who are able to sell these ideas, and can make something happen. After all, the more you do, the less they have to do. And the less they have to do, the more they can focus on the things that only they can do.
Besides, we are sales people. We should never stop selling.
Technology Sales Manager Gives Advice On Selling Executives
When I sold technology, I worked with an account manager on one of our major accounts. We were creating a proposal for this account and we needed to allocate continuing engineering resources to resolve an issue. To secure those resources, we had to make a presentation and sell our corporate executives.
Scott was understandably nervous and he had some performance anxiety about presenting in front of our executive team. The manager of the major accounts team, Don, was in town helping him and gave him some coaching. He told Scott that he would do fine as long as he remembered his training. Don then said, “You know, we have all of these great sales and presentation skills that we acquire in our career, and we use them very well when we are in front of a client. However, when it comes time to selling executives in our own company, we forget all about them.”
Zig Ziglar said sales is a transfer of emotion from the sales person to the person being sold. So somewhere in time, we began tying the concept of sales to the common definition we currently use for moving money.
Sales is a communication style. We are all sales people and we are always in a position to sell. It doesn’t matter if we are selling a traditional buyer in a client company, a junior member of our project team, or selling executives in our company. We need to convey our excitement and enthusiasm. The only way we can do that is by selling and communicating persuasively.
We would do well to follow Don’s advice and trust our training regardless of our situation or environment. Remember, we are always selling.